Final Fantasy has been known as an RPG, but is this about to change? Outcry from fans claims Final Fantasy XV seems more action-oriented, and the frustration can be understood, as the franchise is cherished for being one of the architects of RPG throughout gaming history. The most recent cause of this worry has been the latest TGS trailer, showcasing battle sequences without the presence of input commands.
Yet, if we look at this quote from Nomura back in 2013, you might notice something:
“I wanted FF15 to be as seamless as possible, and to achieve that, we needed to have all the actions you could potentially do always be available in memory. Since this is FF, after all, you have lots of potential factors, from the varied weapons to the party members’ individual actions and magic spells. Keeping this massive amount of RPG character data around, and having them fight all kinds of monsters on a large map, is a lot of stuff. To that we’re adding light sourcing, physics, filters, and other graphical elements, but there’s only so much we could display at once, so we were forced to go through a weeding process.”
The quote suggests that his intention was to make combat as seamless as possible, and not to simply transform the game into your typical beat-em-up action.
This is supported, oddly enough, when you look at the most recent trailer for Final Fantasy XV. At first glance, the absence of input commands suggests it’s closer to becoming another action game. However, take a look at 1:20 to 1:25. The main character walks up to an enemy, dodges an attack instead of launching one, bumps into another enemy, pauses, and only then launches an assault. While this could be dismissed as over-analysis, the pause may suggest that the game still retains some turn-based combat in the sense that you may have to wait before you can attack again.
The series is very familiar with experimenting on battle systems, ranging from the Active Battle System introduced in IV to X’s Conditional Turn-Based form. The most recent game, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII departs from this tradition the most, fusing a mixture of action and turn-based strategy to bring a new experience.
And it worked out; even though the reviews weren’t spectacular, the battle system was praised almost universally for its fast pace, fluidity, and energy. When you ask people what they disliked most about the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, a majority would say that they found the storylines dreadful, with weakly designed characters carrying shallow personalities. The first answer wouldn’t necessarily be the Active Dimension Battle system that defines the trilogy’s combat.
Final Fantasy XV has been in development for years, and as you can see at the beginning of the trailer, they’re still working on it, tweaking features as they go along. With the small nugget found in the trailer, alongside Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns proving that action and RPG can get along, it’s very possible that, after almost a decade of development, Square Enix has made an RPG so seamless we might not even notice that it’s an actual RPG.